Over the past two seasons, the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks have dominated the Southland Conference. Last season, the Lumberjacks went through conference play and the conference tournament without a blemish on their conference record, and advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. This season, the Lumberjacks picked up right where they left off, and entered Saturday with a 32-game winning streak in Southland play.
Their opponent on Saturday was a team who many considered to be their top contender before the season started. The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders entered the season with a ton of hype, and have shown flashes of strong play so far in 2014-15. The Islanders entered the game with a 7 – 4 record in conference play, but were coming off two straight losses. Saturday presented itself as an opportunity for the Islanders to make their present felt in the conference.
The Islanders would not squander the opportunity. The Islanders jumped out to a 10-point lead at half-time, and held on down the stretch to score the upset win over the Lumberjacks. Texas A&M-CC defended their home court with a 71 – 63 victory on Valentine’s Day in Corpus Christi, Texas.
As the game opened up, the Lumberjacks would race out to a six-point lead with the game barely five minutes old. Thomas Walkup scored eight points by himself, outscoring the entire Islanders’ roster over that span.
The Islanders would continue to chip away at the lead, with freshman Ehab Amin making his presence felt on the offensive end for the home team. Little did fans know it at the time, but Amin was in for his best game as an Islander in this one.
The Lumberjacks would stretch their lead to seven, thanks to a Jared Johnson three-pointer at the 9:09 mark of the first half. From there, the Jacks would go cold from the field, allowing the Islanders to get back in the game. Five different players scored two points each during the Islanders’ 10 – 0 run, helping to stake the team to a slim 23 – 20 lead.
Over the last four-plus minutes of the half, the Lumberjacks would go cold again from the field, and the Islanders once again took full advantage. The Islanders closed the half on a 13 – 2 run to take a 35 – 25 lead into the break.
In the second half, the Lumberjacks came out with a vengeance, pouring in six quick points which forced the Islanders into a timeout.
Rashawn Thomas recorded the first two points of the second half for the Islanders with an and-one play at the 14:08 mark, ending the team’s lengthy scoring drought. Ehab Amin scored seven of the Islanders’ next nine points, and the lead was up to 14 points for Texas A&M-CC in a blink of an eye.
Over the next several minutes, the Lumberjacks couldn’t get to within seven points of the Islanders, as the hometown team always had an answer on the offensive end. Ty Charles made a three-pointer with 4:56 remaining to bring the Lumberjacks to within four, but that’s as close as they would get.
The deficit was cut to four on several occasions, but the Islanders would never relinquish the lead. Strong free throw shooting down the stretch by Bryce Douvier and Rashawn Thomas allowed the Islanders to hold onto the lead and come away with the program’s biggest victory of the season.
On Valentine’s Day, the Islanders delivered a win to all of their beloved fans, knocking off the Stephen F. Lumberjacks by a final score of 71 – 63 inside the American Bank Center.
For the visiting Lumberjacks, not all was bad on Saturday. Thomas Walkup led all scorers in the game, pouring in a game-high 25 points in a losing effort. Jacob Parker, the reigning Southland Player of the Year, was held in check on Saturday. Parker was 0-of-7 from the floor, and only recorded two points in the loss.
For the Islanders, it was a big night for freshman guard Ehab Amin. Ehab recorded a career-high 22 points off the bench to go along with 7 rebounds in the win.
Rashawn Thomas continued his strong play this season with another big game on Saturday. In 32 minutes of floor time, Thomas recorded 20 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in the victory.
For the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (20 – 4, 10 – 1), the loss was their first in Southland play in 728 days, and ended their winning streak of 32 games in Southland play. The Lumberjacks will look to bounce back on Monday when they go on the road to take on the Incarnate Word Cardinals.
The win was the biggest one of the season so far for the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders (13 – 11, 8 – 4). The win ended their mini two-game losing streak, and puts them into a tie for 3rd place in the conference with the Northwestern State Demons. They will look to build off their big win over the Lumberjacks in their next time out when they welcome the New Orleans Privateers to town on Monday.